Critically comment on the concept of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby

Critically comment on the concept of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel "The Great Gatsby" is a seminal work of American literature that critically explores the concept of the "American Dream." Published in 1925 during the Roaring Twenties, The lives of the wealthy elite in the made-up Long Island communities of East Egg and West Egg are vividly portrayed in the book. The book provides a sophisticated reflection on the American Dream and its elusiveness via the experiences of its protagonists.

Critically comment on the concept of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby

1. Imaginary Nature of the American Dream:

One of the central themes of "The Great Gatsby" is the illusion and elusiveness of the American Dream. The mysterious lead character of the book, Jay Gatsby, personifies pursuing this ambition. Having been raised in poverty, Gatsby amasses enormous money through his involvement in real estate and illegal activities, all in an attempt to win back Daisy Buchanan, the love of his life. His opulent parties, opulent home, and ostentatious way of life give the impression that he has realised the American Dream, but it soon becomes apparent that this dream is still out of reach for him.

Fitzgerald presents the American Dream as a myth that will never materialise. Gatsby's pursuit of wealth and prestige, motivated by his love for Daisy, emphasises the notion that the American Dream is frequently based on irrational hopes and ambitions. Gatsby's tragic demise is eventually caused by his inability to turn back time and win Daisy back, despite his enormous wealth. A critical remark on the superficial materialism and unrelenting desire of status that can result in emptiness and disillusionment is offered by this depiction of the dream as an illusion.

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2. Corruption and Moral Decay:

"The Great Gatsby" also reflects the moral decay and corruption that can accompany the pursuit of the American Dream. The characters in the novel often engage in unethical and morally questionable actions in their quest for wealth and social status. Jay Gatsby's wealth is amassed through bootlegging and other illicit activities, while Tom Buchanan, another wealthy character, engages in extramarital affairs without remorse.

Critically comment on the concept of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby-The novel illustrates how the pursuit of the American Dream can lead to moral compromises, ethical erosion, and a devaluation of human relationships. Gatsby's criminal enterprises, Tom's callous treatment of his wife Daisy, and the general moral decline of the characters in the story are indicative of the corrupting influence of the pursuit of material success. Fitzgerald's portrayal serves as a critical commentary on the moral consequences of prioritizing wealth and status over integrity and human decency.

3. The Green Light and the Unattainable:

The green light at the end of Daisy's dock, which Gatsby can see from his mansion across the bay, symbolizes the unreachable nature of the American Dream. The green light represents Gatsby's yearning for a better future, his pursuit of the dream, and his relentless desire to recreate the past with Daisy. However, it is a distant, intangible symbol that is forever out of his grasp.

Critically comment on the concept of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby

This symbolism highlights the illusory nature of the American Dream. The green light is a constant reminder that the dream is perpetually just out of reach, no matter how much wealth or success one attains. It serves as a critical commentary on the idea that the American Dream, while promising hope and prosperity, can become an unattainable goal, leading to frustration and disillusionment.

4. Materialism and Hedonism:

Fitzgerald's novel portrays the hedonistic and materialistic excesses of the wealthy elite during the Jazz Age. The characters in the story, especially those living in East Egg, are obsessed with conspicuous consumption and lavish displays of wealth. Gatsby's extravagant parties, the opulent mansions, and the decadent lifestyle of the characters are emblematic of the materialistic values that can accompany the pursuit of the American Dream.

Critically comment on the concept of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby-The critical commentary here lies in the notion that the American Dream, when reduced to a pursuit of material success and indulgence, can lead to a superficial and empty existence. The characters' relentless pursuit of wealth and pleasure results in hollow lives marked by shallowness and a lack of genuine human connections. The excesses and moral emptiness depicted in the novel serve as a cautionary tale about the negative consequences of a materialistic interpretation of the American Dream.

5. Social Class and Inequality:

Fitzgerald's novel also critiques the role of social class and inequality in the pursuit of the American Dream. The characters are divided into distinct social classes, with those in West Egg (like Gatsby) being perceived as "new money" and those in East Egg (like Tom and Daisy) as "old money." The divide between these classes is marked by differences in manners, values, and privilege.

The novel suggests that social class and economic inequality can serve as barriers to achieving the American Dream. Those from lower social classes, even if they attain wealth, often find themselves excluded from the upper echelons of society. Gatsby, for all his wealth and ambition, is unable to fully integrate into East Egg society due to his "new money" status. This class-based critique reveals the inherent limitations of the American Dream in a society characterized by rigid class distinctions.

6. The Role of Daisy Buchanan:

Daisy Buchanan, as one of the central characters in the novel, represents the embodiment of the American Dream and its hollowness. She is a symbol of the unattainable dream, an idealized figure who becomes an object of obsession for Gatsby. Her allure and charm, combined with her elite social status, make her the epitome of success in Gatsby's eyes.

However, Daisy's character also highlights the idea that the American Dream, as embodied in her, is ultimately empty and disappointing. Despite her external success and attractiveness, Daisy is portrayed as shallow, self-centered, and unable to provide the fulfillment that Gatsby seeks. This critical portrayal underscores the theme that the American Dream, when focused solely on the pursuit of external success, can lead to emotional shallowness and disillusionment.

7. The Tragic Ending:

The tragic ending of "The Great Gatsby" serves as a critical commentary on the American Dream's ultimate cost. Gatsby's death, resulting from a chain of events set in motion by his pursuit of the dream, highlights the potential tragedy and sacrifice inherent in the pursuit of success and status.

The novel's conclusion underscores the idea that the relentless pursuit of the American Dream can lead to personal destruction and disillusionment. Gatsby, who represents the archetypal American Dreamer, pays the ultimate price for his unrelenting ambition and the illusions he cherishes. His tragic ending serves as a poignant critique of the high personal and emotional toll exacted by the dream.


F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" provides a profound and critical examination of the concept of the American Dream. Through the experiences and interactions of its characters, the novel offers a thought-provoking commentary on the elusive nature of this dream and the inherent complexities that surround it.

Fitzgerald underscores the illusory quality of the American Dream by depicting Jay Gatsby's relentless pursuit of wealth and status as a mirage that forever remains out of reach. Gatsby's story serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of tying one's happiness and identity to the materialistic aspects of the dream, as it ultimately leads to disillusionment and personal tragedy.

The book also explores the moral rot and degradation that can result from chasing a dream nonstop. In their pursuit of wealth and social position, the story's characters frequently violate moral principles and commit immoral acts. This section of the book offers a sharp assessment of the ethical fallout from putting financial achievement ahead of morality and decency.

The green light at Daisy's dock's end represents Gatsby's unwavering desire to relive the past with Daisy and his longing for a better future, signifying the unachievable character of the American Dream. This symbolism highlights the notion that the American Dream is an elusive ideal that is always out of reach, highlighting how far-fetched and ethereal the ideal is.

Fitzgerald also addresses materialism and hedonism as themes in the book. The protagonists' fixation on ostentatious parties, showy consumption, and extravagant displays of wealth draws attention to how a materialistic version of the American Dream can lead to a life that is hollow and superficial. The novel's depictions of excesses and moral emptiness serve as a sobering critique of the drawbacks of putting material achievement before of sincere interpersonal relationships and moral principles.

The novel also discusses how social status and economic disparity affect people's ability to achieve the American Dream. The clear distinction between "old money" and "new money" draws attention to the obstacles and constraints that social class can place on people who are trying to succeed. This critique, which is based on class, highlights the difficulties and injustices that come with chasing the dream.

Daisy Buchanan, as a symbol of the American Dream, embodies the notion that the dream, when focused solely on external success and attractiveness, can lead to emotional shallowness and disappointment. Her character highlights the idea that the dream, when idealized, can ultimately be empty and unfulfilling.

The tragic ending of the novel serves as a poignant commentary on the ultimate cost of the American Dream. Gatsby's death, resulting from the consequences of his relentless ambition, underscores the potential for personal destruction and disillusionment that the dream can entail.

"The Great Gatsby" remains a timeless critique of the American Dream, one that challenges conventional notions of success, wealth, and status. Fitzgerald's novel encourages readers to critically examine the pursuit of the dream and its consequences, reminding us of the moral, emotional, and personal complexities that are often overshadowed by the idealized vision of the American Dream. As a result, "The Great Gatsby" continues to be a relevant and thought-provoking work that resonates with readers and stimulates discussions about the complexities of the American Dream in contemporary society.


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